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Proportional Representation - the Real Agenda

Sorting the wheat from the chaff in B.C. Politics

Proportional Representation - the Real Agenda thanks to John Winter

The Pros and Cons of the 2018 B.C. Referendum on Electoral Reform

Proportional Representation - the Real Agenda thanks to John Winter

Today (First Past the Post, FPTP) vs Proportional Representation (PR)

Proportional Representation - the Real Agenda thanks to John Winter

Referendum Ballot with FPTP (First Past the Post) Option Selected



'The Big Lie'

“In the coming weeks, British Columbians will be asked to vote in a very important referendum on changing how we elect our MLAs, not an insignificant initiative. We’ve rejected proportional representation twice before. It’s essential we do so a third time. I support our current voting system, which is simple, produces stable governments and is one of the institutional pillars that all our successes stand on. On the first question on the ballot, I urge you to vote in favour of First Past the Post (FPTP), option one. The alternative is to jump into the unknown. Three versions of Proportional Representation (PR) are on offer. Two have never been used or tried anywhere in the world and the third is presently used in just four countries. That third option is called Mixed Member Proportional (MMP). It was soundly rejected in BC by the hard-working Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform in 2005 because of the damage it does to local representation.

I point this out because there is a big lie in this referendum campaign. It underscores everything proponents of electoral reform say. The claims that PR jurisdictions out-perform ones like ours, or that PR improves voter turn-out or that the environment fares better under their preferred electoral system are not comparing apples to apples. Such claims stand on a foundation of misdirection, lies and obfuscations. That is because the electoral systems that inform the research findings are not even on the ballot in BC this fall.

The Yes side says PR is used in more than 80 countries. In truth, only four countries actually use any of the forms that appear on BC’s referendum ballot. The rest use some form of “list” PR. That means parties make lists of candidates to be elected, and seats are allocated based on the overall proportion of votes. Over 90% of the countries held up as examples use electoral systems BC isn’t even voting on. Citizens of countries that do use list system are becoming very uncomfortable with this form of election. The evidence is clear on at least two fronts.

First, radical parties of the left and the right are taking advantage of the low threshold to win a seat. They seize on voters’ fears and frustrations and run single-issue, municipal-style campaigns based on emotion, ignoring vast swathes of policy. You can see this today in Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, even Italy, which has had 61 governments in 67 years under such systems.

Secondly, countries are constantly fiddling with their electoral processes to try and make a flawed system work better. New Zealand has recently passed a bill that would strip MPs of their seat if they switch parties or their leader kicks them out of the party. Germany is trying for the third time to introduce a vote threshold to minimize small parties. The second question on our ballots in the fall referendum reflects the dense academic nature of this attempt to fix proportional representation.

Let’s look at the one option on the ballot used in the real world - MMP. Under this model 40% of the elected members are from party lists. This means constituencies will be at least 40% larger, with a real impact in the north and interior of BC. For example, the provincial riding of Stikine already large, if increased by 40% to allow for party lists, would be larger than New Zealand! Taking systems in use in small countries and transferring them to BC in a social experiment disenfranchises people outside the Lower Mainland. There is nothing fair about that. Local representation is cast aside.

On the No side, we know how important a local MLA is. Our current system, First Past the Post (FPTP) puts local representation first, where it should be. Most countries which use FPTP are or were members of the British Commonwealth. It is part of our heritage, part of who we are as Canadians, mirroring our Parliamentary traditions.

MMP is used for parliamentary elections in four countries including Germany and New Zealand. In Germany, it took almost six months to form a coalition government after last September's election, and is growing ever more fragile. Germany’s Bundestag is now home to seven parties, including radical parties on both the right and the left. Proportional representation amplifies their impact by giving them legitimacy and resources to advance their extremist agendas.

New Zealand recently switched electoral systems to MMP. It’s not going well. The current government is a hodge-podge of the Labour Party, the Greens and an anti-immigrant party called New Zealand First. The latter two members didn’t elect a single member in constituency elections by getting the most votes. They leveraged their seven percent of the popular vote into four cabinet posts, including that of Deputy Prime Minister.

This is the big lie.

PR promoters claim that proportional representation is the solution to all our electoral woes and point to its widespread use around the world. The truth is that the options we’ve been given are complex, esoteric and used in very few places with little experience to point to. We’ve rejected changing our system in referendums twice this century for very good reasons. How many more times do we have to go to this well? Another lie is in the details. All three options on the ballot leave the important details, including maps and the number of MLAs until after the referendum. It’s only then the NDP/Green marriage of convenience will carefully choose those to favour their electoral prospects. This referendum is a desperate move to give the Green party a permanent platform. If they can elect three people in a small corner of the province, they deserve three seats.

With apologies to Churchill, FPTP is the worst electoral system, except for all the others. Vote to keep our current system, and ignore the lies, vote to keep the status quo.”

by John Winter, Past President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce, October 2018
 

The new guide from Elections B.C. doesn't tell us that, based on historical voting patterns, our future under proportional representation will consist entirely of successive minority governments, dickering for power through backroom deals with splinter groups. It doesn't tell us that the balance of power may be in the hands of any radical bunch that can get five per cent of the popular vote. It also doesn't tell us that all future provincial elections will be fought and decided in Vancouver and Victoria, while the rest of the province is relegated to insignificance. Pro-rep guarantees all three outcomes. Count me as a decided 'No! Clare Stevens, October 2018
QuotaBills
Don't vote; it only encourages them. - Unknown

Everybody knows politics is a contact sport. - Barrack Obama

A government of law is a government of lawyers. - Saying

Turn on to politics, or politics will turn on you. - Ralph Nader

Government is an endless pursuit of new ways to tax. - Unknown

The secret of politics? Make a good treaty with Russia. - Otto von Bismarck

A government is the only known vessel that leaks from the top. - James Reston

An honest man in politics shines more than he would elsewhere. - Mark Twain

War has rules, mud wrestling has rules - politics has no rules. - Ross Perot

World War II was the last government program that really worked. - George Will

Democracy! Bah! When I hear that word I reach for my feather Boa. - Allen Ginsberg

The sad duty of politics is to establish justice in a sinful world. - Reinhold Niebuhr

Politics is the chloroform of the Irish people, or, rather the hashish. - Oliver St. John Gogarty

In politics, madame, you need two things: friends, but above all an enemy. - Brian Mulroney

Vote for the man who promises least; he'll be the least disappointing. - Bernard Baruch

Government can't give us anything without depriving us of something else. - Henry Hazlitt

Democracy used to be a good thing, but now it has gotten into the wrong hands. - Jesse Helms

Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated. - Will Rogers

Idealism is the noble toga that political gentlemen drape over their will to power. - Aldous Huxley

I love Canada. I am from Canada. I will bash the Canadian government but never Canada. - Jason Priestley

Of all the tasks of government, the most basic is to protect its citizens from violence. - John Foster Dulles

Whenever a fellow tells me he's bipartisan, I know he's going to vote against me. - Harry S Truman

I am on your Walk of Fame in Toronto. My sense of humour is Canadian. But I can't vote. - Donald Sutherland

I confess I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing. - H L Mencken

A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them. - P.J. O'Rourke

It's our experience that political leaders don't always mean the opposite of what they say. - Abba Eban

Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right? - Robert Orben

When governments become large, voters cannot exercise close oversight, otherwise known as political power. - Maggie Gallagher

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. - Frederic Bastiat

One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace, good people don't go into government. - Donald Trump

Politics: Poli, a Latin word meaning "many"; and tics, meaning "bloodsucking creatures." - Robin Williams

There is not Communism or Marxism, but representative democracy and social justice in a well-planned economy. - Fidel Castro

The hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning. - Theodor Adorno

Taxpayer - someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination. - Ronald Reagan

If the government was as afraid of disturbing the consumer as it is of disturbing business, this would be some democracy. - Kin Hubbard

A democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates. - Gore Vidal

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy. - Groucho Marx

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost. - John Quincy Adams

The quality of a person's life is directly proportional to his commitment to excellence, regardless of his chosen field of endeavor. - Vince Lombardi

Being in politics is like being a football coach; you have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important. - Eugene McCarthy


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